One meaning of the word kirtan (phonetically keer-ton) is ‘praise’.
A variety of kirtan chants, often as call-and-response were traditionally utilized as a method to pay respect to the Divine. In his fifth release, Safe Harbor: Healing Kirtan – Mahaprasad, master musician, poet, peace activist, award-winner, and healer Sudama Mark Kennedy delves soulfully into this ancient Indian spiritual practice. What sets this album apart from other recordings of this genre is that it is all acoustic except for the bass. Kirtan enthusiasts will feel at home right away; those new to chanting will find this a safe way to dip their toes into the nectar of this practice.
The selection includes multiple chants to Krishna and Ram, including two tender renderings of the “Maha Mantra” with the repeated lyrics “Hare Rama, Hare Krishna.” One version here intersperses English words with Sanskrit lyrics. Sudama repeats this patterning with “Safe Harbor/ Radhe Radhe Radhe Shyam.” He also provides his own mellow, luxuriously paced take on Krishna Das’ “Mountain Hare Krishna.”
Kennedy and his band perform a melodious tribute of a traditional eight-stanza chant to the goddess of prosperity, “Mahalakshmi Ashtakam.” In the title track, Kennedy sings, “That’s why music is safe harbor for my soul.” An upbeat instrumental version of the timeless classic “Amazing Grace” tops off Safe Harbor.
True to its title, Safe Harbor certainly provides a deeply relaxing respite for our body, mind, and soul.
by Sudama Mark Kennedy
Reviewed by Madhavi Rathod an Indian-born Vedic Astrologer & Ayurvedic practitioner residing in the Bay Area: vedichealing.com